DUSD preparing for worst-case budget scenario

DOWNEY - There's still no relief in sight for school districts struggling with their finances.The proposed measure that would raise the sales tax and income taxes on California's biggest earners and calculated to bring in some $9 billion in revenue is just that-still a proposal that might or might not win voters' approval in November. The expectation is that the $9 billion will fill the hole in the Governor's budget that would at least bring some normalcy to school budgets, badly battered and broken down as they are. But luckily, to this point, thanks to some level-headed fiscal and operational planning, the Downey Unified School District has gone unscathed in the areas that matter most in the education of its average student population of a little over 22,000. It has just issued its 2nd Interim Financial Report and while the prognosis isn't very good, it's not very bad either. An illustrative case that comes readily to mind is the announced closure of the Bellflower Adult School, while the Downey Adult School continues to thrive. Adult school principal and director of support services Phil Davis says Downey Adult School has reached out to the affected students, telling them it is ready to accommodate them especially where the two adult schools offer similar classes. They are welcome to call the Downey Adult School office anytime, Davis said. The interim report in the meantime carried a required certification that the district can meet its financial obligations for the remainder of the current fiscal year. The school budget is based on the following assumptions, confirmed assistant superintendent for business services Kevin Condon Tuesday: 1) no salary increases; 2) no salary cuts; 3) no furloughs; and 4) no layoffs. He said the effects of the proposed tax initiative, shown in an accompanying graph, cearly traced the past revenue limit history through 2011-12 as well as the projections through 2014-15 showing the optimistic scenario if the tax initiative is approved. Additionally, the graph showed the likely figures if the tax initiative fails. Should the worst case scenario materialize, Condon reiterated that the district will have to once again dip into its reserves, now down to $14 million. Also Tuesday, the board of education recognized Downey High for winning the CIF Southern Section Div. V girls soccer championship (principal Tom Houts: "Winning the CIF title is really a big deal!") and Warren High for winning, two years in a row, the CIF Southern Section Div. VI girls water polo championship (principal John Harris: "Winning back-to-back CIF championships is truly special!"). In the meantime, the board heard West Middle School principal Alyda Mir present the Superintendent's Vision Award in the area of Culture to WMS's "phenomenal" office manager Lisa Carrizo. An "extraordinary person", Carrizo "puts in long hours, and always knows what's going on [in school]...parents know they can call her to ask questions and they will get an answer...teachers count on her for everything-from arranging sub coverage to supplying them with a piece of chocolate to get them through the day," Mir said. Finally, referring to Carrizo as "our rock", Mir said West is "lucky to have such a happy, knowledgeable, dependable, and effective staff member that always keeps the whole West community in mind."

********** Published: March 15, 2012 - Volume 10 - Issue 48